Georgia State Senate Passes Bill Requiring Photo ID for Absentee Voting

Georgia State Capitol
David Grant/Flickr

The Georgia State Senate passed a bill Tuesday requiring voters in the state to present a photo ID prior to receiving an absentee ballot.

The vote was 35 to 18, with Democrats united in opposition, as GPB (Georgia Public Broadcasting) News reported:

Majority Caucus Vice Chair Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) sponsored the bill and said it would improve security and efficiency of the absentee process.

“It’s not about disenfranchising voters, it’s not about overly burdening the electorate,” he said. “It is about efficiency and security and election integrity and allowing the Georgia public to have confidence in the vote.”

But Sen. David Lucas (D-Macon) gave an emotional speech in opposition to the proposal, calling it “malarkey” and warning that the measure would be costly because of inevitable court challenges.

“You’re going to spend taxpayer money trying to defend it,” he said. “I will not go back home and tell those who vote that I took away the right for you to vote.”

The bill now goes to the Georgia House of Representatives, where the Special Committee on Election Integrity voted Wednesday to approve HB 531, which contains a number of election reform measures, including the requirement of photo ID for absentee ballot applications.

The Gwinnett Daily Post reported:

The roughly 60-page bill, sponsored by Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, contains more than two dozen proposals including a controversial change requiring voters seeking mail-in ballots to provide the number on their driver’s license or state identification card, or photocopies of other valid ID forms.

Fleming’s bill would also restrict ballot-casting on weekends during the three-week early-voting period, scrapping rules for polls to be open on Sundays and instead requiring counties to pick either one Saturday or one Sunday ahead of Election Day for the precincts to be open.

The bill passed the state House Special Committee on Election Integrity, which Fleming chairs, on a party-line vote Wednesday and now heads to the full House for approval.

A key component of HB 531 states that, ““No superintendent shall take or accept any funding, grants, or gifts from any source other than from the governing authority of the county or municipality, the State of Georgia, or the federal government.”                                                 .

Breitbart News reported previously:

[The] controversial practice of [private funding of election administration was]  pioneered by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan through $419 million in donations to nonprofits Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) and the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) played a key role in determining the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, particularly in five key battleground states where President Biden narrowly defeated former President Trump: Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

During Georgia’s 2020 election, the CTCL donated more than $24 million to four counties–Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, and DeKalb–where Biden outperformed Hillary Clinton by more than 200,000 votes, and the CEIR donated an estimated $3 million to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office “for the purpose of educating voters about election rules and process.”

Phill Kline, director of the Amistad Project of The Thomas More Society, told Breitbart News on Monday:

The danger of allowing private interests to direct government expenditures played out in the 2020 election as more than $400 million of Mark Zuckerberg monies combined with other Big Tech funding to create a two-tiered election system with election officials in democrat strongholds have millions to target voter turnout, engage in ballot harvesting and to cure ballots while areas of the state with Republican voters did not benefit from such government efforts.

Unfortunately, HB 531, although possibly well intended, fails to address these concerns. Rather it codifies the use of such money by allowing cities and counties to receive, appropriate and spend such funds just as they did in the 2020 election. The state legislature has the responsibility under the United States Constitution and federal law to treat all voters equally.

Therefore, private monies must be prohibited at the local level unless such monies are received and appropriated by the state legislature consistent with the state election plan approved under the Help America Vote Act. Otherwise, the disparate treatment of voters dictated by private interests will continue. House Bill 531 needs to be amended if Georgia wants to prohibit the private takeover of government that occurred during the 2020 election.

In an interview with Breitbart News Editor-in-chief Alex Marlow on Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Daily Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) expressed concern over the private funding of election administration, but indicated he was not ready to endorse such a ban:

“One other thing that was really a fascinating thing that wildly helped Democrats as well is this sort of public private partnership when it comes to these elections. Tech giants, Mark Zuckerberg in particular, placing drop boxes to mail in these ballots, particularly in Democrat areas again, wildly favoring Democrats. The Republican Party’s national election reform commission has put forward a bill to ban this practice. Are you aware of this, do you agree with that, and any thoughts looking back on these strange boxes?” Marlow asked.

“That is definitely something we’re looking at here. I know there are a couple of bills, or either will be, that will be introduced to address that. I look forward to working with the legislature to address that,” Kemp responded.

“In the post all of election processes playing out over the last several months, we’ve done debriefs with folks on the ground here who were with the Trump campaign with Senator [David] Perdue. I talked with Senator [Kelly] Loeffler the other day about some of the things that they saw that they felt like were not parity quite honestly and I think this is one of those issues,” Kemp said. . .

“You’re not committing either way to supporting a ban on the private funding of elections?,” Marlow asked.

“I’m not a big fan of that. I haven’t seen the specific legislation. We’re just now getting into that. I wouldn’t want to come out and 100 percent endorse it.  I do think it’s troubling that you have … there are outside interests that are picking sides in a sense of a nonpartisan way that is troubling . I think it’s something we will definitely be digging into ,” Kemp responded.

It is unclear if the Georgia State Senate will pass a bill that includes a similar provision banning the private funding of election administration.


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